Are US Special Forces Leading the Kurds in Taking the Azaz Pocket?
And does that mean that Turkey may be shelling Pentagon troops while Russians are flying air cover for them?
The Syrian Arab Army and the YPG troops of the Syrian Kurds are making good progress in the Azaz pocket. The pocket formed after the Syrian army cut through the "rebel" corridor between Aleppo city and the Turkish border. The aim now is to push all foreign proxy forces who are still in that pocket (green) back north into Turkey and to get full control of the border.
The Syrian-Russian command decided to let the YPG (yellow) have the fun of cleaning the pocket only to taunt the Turkish President Erdogan. Erdogan has a serious domestic policy problems when the Kurdish forces gain control in parts of Syria that the wannabe Sultan Erdogan regarded as sacred neo-Ottoman ground. His court jester, the Prime Minister Davutoglu, announced that his country would not allow the town of Azaz to fall to Kurdish fighters. He will have to eat a flock of craws over that.
The Turks are firing artillery from Turkish ground in the north onto Kurdish position in the pocket. Turkish special forces are likely near the front line to control that fire. But artillery alone can not make the difference. The Kurds have air support from the Russian airforce which Turkey no longer dares to attack. The Russians will not attack the Turkish artillery as such an attack could widen the war. The Kurdish troops will have to suffer through that barrage as they push out the Turkish and CIA paid proxies. Some reinforcement for the CIA proxies arrived from Idleb. These passed from Idleb into Turkey and from Turkey into the pocket. The destruction of these forces in the Azaz pocket will make the further fights of the Syrian army in Idleb and elsewhere a lot easier.
The Turks see the Kurds as terrorists and demand that everyone joins that view. The U.S. declined and several other states have protested against the Turkish use of artillery against the Kurds. The U.S. sees the Syrian Kurds as friendlies. In east Syria it helped the Kurds to kick the Islamic State out of Kobane. There are U.S. special forces on the ground in east Syria to prepare the Kurds for new attacks on the Islamic State. These also act as Forward Air Controller to direct U.S. air strikes.
In Kurds in the Azaz pocket have also some support from a professional military. Their moves are very purposeful and controlled. They are clearly coordinated with the Syrian army. The coordination with the Russian airforce works well and there is ground fire coordination with the SAA. The line of demarcation between them has likely been agreed upon a while ago. This animated GIF shows the development in the pocket over several days. The town Kafr Naya was, for example, first taken by the Syrian army, but then the army pulled back from it and the Kurds immediately took over. Some local forces, former "rebels", in Kafr Naya then joined the Syrian Democratic Forces, which is the U.S. label used for the YPG whenever it has some local Arab forces attached to it.
Who are the professionals that are helping the YPG to take the Azaz pocket?
My first thought was of course Russian Spetsnaz. But I asked around and none of my usual sources would confirm this. The sources acknowledged that the YPG in west Syria has special force support but there was some quite unexpected silence over who these forces were. It is clear to me that these are not Syrian special forces. The YPG does not want to be seen as a adjunct to the Syrian government. No one would confirm to me that these are Russian forces even as that would be of no great surprise to anyone. This leads me to speculate that some U.S. special forces are directing the YPG in the Azaz pocket. This in coordination with the Syrian army and the Russians.
Is that a crazy thought? Consider: The Syrian YPG Kurds are supported by the U.S. military. They received weapons and ammunition from the U.S. military and, at least in the east, have some U.S. military special forces embedded with them. These Pentagon supported YPG troops currently fight foreign proxy forces in the Azaz pocket which are supported, equipped and paid by the CIA, the Saudis, the Turks and other Arab U.S. "allies". The CIA is running the show. The Turkish NATO member is shelling the Pentagon supported YPG to protect the CIA supported "moderate rebels". The current CIA director was once the CIA Chief of Station in Riyadh and has intimate connection to the Saudi rulers (and their pockets?).
It was the military's Defense Intelligence Agency that warned in 2012 of the emergence of a "Salafist Principality" - the Islamic State - in Syria and Iraq. It warned against continuing the CIA support for the "rebels". It was the Pentagon that sabotaged the White House intent to create another "moderate rebel" force to attack the Islamic State:
The military’s resistance dates back to the summer of 2013, when a highly classified assessment, put together by the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, then led by General Martin Dempsey, forecast that the fall of the Assad regime would lead to chaos and, potentially, to Syria’s takeover by jihadi extremists, much as was then happening in Libya. A former senior adviser to the Joint Chiefs told me that the document was an ‘all-source’ appraisal, drawing on information from signals, satellite and human intelligence, and took a dim view of the Obama administration’s insistence on continuing to finance and arm the so-called moderate rebel groups. By then, the CIA had been conspiring for more than a year with allies in the UK, Saudi Arabia and Qatar to ship guns and goods – to be used for the overthrow of Assad – from Libya, via Turkey, into Syria. The new intelligence estimate singled out Turkey as a major impediment to Obama’s Syria policy. The document showed, the adviser said, ‘that what was started as a covert US programme to arm and support the moderate rebels fighting Assad had been co-opted by Turkey, and had morphed into an across-the-board technical, arms and logistical programme for all of the opposition, including Jabhat al-Nusra and Islamic State. The so-called moderates had evaporated and the Free Syrian Army was a rump group stationed at an airbase in Turkey.’
Clearly, the Pentagon hates the CIA support for the "moderate rebels". The CIA support has fed not only the "rebels" but also al-Qaeda and the Islamic State. Continuing that path would likely result in a radical al-Qaeda controlled Syrian government and another thankless, years long military expedition to oust it.
The U.S. has several kinds of special forces. The famed SEALs as well as the army's Delta Forces are by now mostly door kickers. They do night raids and other SWAT commando like stuff. The Army Rangers have joined them in the bloody business of killing Afghan farmers. The U.S. special forces that are trained and able to direct a local guerrilla are the Green Berets. A very discreet type of people that work in small teams and are trained in local languages and habits.
So who is helping the Kurds. My hunch is that these are not the "polite green men" of the Russian Spetsnaz, who enabled the people of Crimea to rejoin with Russia, who are now helping the YPG. I believe that the Pentagon sent some of its own "green" people to help the YPG to kick the asses of the CIA supported Jihadis out of Syria. This in tight coordination with the Syrian and Russian forces.
The Obama administration for now decided to accept the Russian offer to pull its chestnuts out of the Syrian fire. But it does not want to give the Russian any credit for doing so. And while the Pentagon has firmly joined the Russian camp some years ago, the White House interventionist borg are ready to again change course and to again support the CIA, the Saudis and Turks in their "moderate Jihadis" mischief. The Green Berets, should they indeed be in north-west Syria, better do their job well and defeat the CIA proxies in a decisive manner.
The above is speculative based solely on my personal hunch and it may be completely wrong. It would probably make for a good movie plot. But could it be right? Has the Pentagon send its specialists to help the Syrians, Russians and Kurds to kick out the CIA sponsored Jihadis? Please let me know your take.